A few friends have started writing lately, taking the wild plunge into sharing their ideas and experiences publicly. Sounds easy enough, until you try it.
In conversations with all of them, the topic of vulnerability comes up over and over again. How much is too much to share? To what degree should writing be censored to avoid total awkwardness? And on a practical level, what if my employer Googles me and finds my blog – would anything be damaging?
These are completely legitimate questions. For years I’ve grappled with finding the right balance in my own truth-telling; figuring out where to draw the line in what truly becomes oversharing. I genuinely enjoy writing about my experiences, even when they’re unpleasant, because it helps me process my feelings and find the lessons in the struggle. Still, there are lots and lots of things that I can’t write about publicly, but for the simple fact that these stories and lessons involve other people who don’t choose to share life with the world.
In writing, and in life in general, the magic happens when you let your guard down. Jumping ship from your comfort zone is not without risk and it’s usually pretty terrifying. Yet, there are SO MANY clichés that demand we do this. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Go big or go home. Dance like no one is watching.
The more you can put yourself out there in any situation – this goes far beyond blogging – the greater the chance you’ll make truly inspiring connections. But there’s also the lingering fear that you could completely screw up and humiliate yourself.
Over the past year, as I’ve written more openly, particularly around my challenges in motherhood, I’ve found there’s something really magical in being the person who compels someone else to say, “I thought I was the only one.”
Because isn’t that all we really want to know in hard times, that we aren’t alone in our struggles? That someone else – anyone else – has felt this alone/scared/weak/guilty/etc., and survived?
The definition of vulnerable includes phrases like, “capable of being hurt,” and “someone open to being physically or emotionally wounded.” So, while we often think being vulnerable puts us in a position of weakness, I think it’s actually quite the opposite. Being vulnerable puts us in a position of total bravery.
Being vulnerable also can be defined as, “open to censure or criticism.” Now if that isn’t brave, I don’t know what is. Voluntarily putting your thoughts on a platter for the world to dissect is hard. Really hard. But it’s all worth it for those occasional moments when you create a real connection with someone, and maybe even help her a little.
My goals in blogging are all over the place. To record life, to process hard times and celebrate good ones, to entertain and to share stories. But the greatest satisfaction comes in the rare comments from strangers, thankful that they aren’t alone.